Family Home Disaster Plan and Evacuation
Preparing for a disaster is one of the most important steps any homeowner may take. Because disasters are unpredictable and may strike without warning, it is imperative that families take the time to discuss a family disaster plan and prepare. Those who take the time to plan often weather the storm in a better manner. Families that prepare ahead of time practice what to do in an emergency. This preparation can ensure that during times of disaster, family members remain calm, have their basic needs met, and can endure the difficult times until they begin the recovery and rebuilding process.
Some steps that families can take to remain aware and alert for disasters is to own a NOAA weather radio. These radios will alert you should there be an emergency in your area. You should also familiarize yourself with your local chapter of the American Red Cross, maintain an active list of emergency contact numbers, and have a thorough understanding of the type of natural disasters that are prone to your area or region. Create a plan with your family members that includes where you will meet should a disaster strike when you are not together. Know evacuation routes out of town and determine where you would go during an emergency. Utilize your local radio, satellite, or cable media communications that will inform you of an emergency.
- Those who prepare for a disaster are at a greater advantage than those who do not. Preparation can reduce financial loss, damage to homes and structures, and help lower the risk of fatalities.
- Different disasters present various challenges. Know the disasters in your area and prepare for each accordingly.
- Be sure to create a family disaster plan.
- Discuss with your family the different types of disasters that are most likely to take place in the area you live and then plan for those specifically.
Four steps for remaining safe include knowing the disasters in your area, creating a family plan, developing checklists to ensure you are prepared, and practicing your plan. If you are unsure of the disasters prone to your area then contact your local chapter of the Red Cross. Preparation must include plans for the disabled as well as pets. Not all shelters are pet friendly and you may need a backup plan should you need to stay at a shelter that does not accept animals. Prepare for the special needs of the elderly or disabled in advance. Make certain that your emergency kit includes medication and medical equipment for those that need them. Devise a safety plan for those who may be at work or in school at the time of an emergency.
Creating a checklist is imperative, as it will ensure you are thoroughly prepared. Once you have devised a plan that works for the disasters prone to your areas, put the plan into action and practice it at least every six months with your family. Do not just prepare for major disasters either. Have children practice evacuating for fire drills and make sure that every family member knows what to do in case of a fire. Preparing children for disaster will help ensure they remain calm and will not panic. Drills are the best way to keep children prepared and ready for whatever may come.
- Prepare a disaster kit and include food and water for all family members to last for three days.
- Create a first aid kit and a tool kit that contains items such as manual can openers, flashlights, spare batteries, a cell phone with a spare battery, and household tools.
- Replace food and water stored for an emergency every six months to ensure it will be fresh.
- Explain different disasters to children in a way they will understand. Teach them how to call 911 and have older children and teens become CPR certified.
Plan for your pets and arrange for them should you need to stay at an emergency shelter that does not accept pets. Make certain to have a portable carrier and stock up on pet food. When gathering water for your supplies be sure to provide water for your pets. Look for hotels that will accept pets. Some hotels may allow pets only in times of emergencies so ask ahead.
Safety is a community effort and everyone should do their part to check on neighbors and those less fortunate in their community to make sure they have means of escape. Offer any assistance that you may provide to those who will need help leaving. By helping those around you who may not be in a position to help themselves, you may end up saving a life. Enlist the assistance of other neighbors and community members to devise the most comprehensive plan for neighbors, the elderly, and the disabled.
- Keep your pet's information in a seal proof plastic bag. Include vaccine information, tag, registration, and any important documents such as your veterinarian number.
- Take up-to-date photos of your pet in case he or she is lost.
- Put together a disaster supply kits specifically for your pets.
- Make sure you have a sturdy, safe carrier to transport pets in.
One of the most important steps to take in a disaster is to follow all official warnings and recommendations and to evacuate when advised to. Disobeying evacuation orders may have deadly consequences. It is often better to leave before an official evacuation has been issued. Those who choose to leave early may find easier access to gas stations, banks, and stores should they choose to leave before government officials order an evacuation.
Those with disabilities will need ensure they have medication and access to any medical devices required during and after the disaster. Network with those in your community and make certain you will have a way of evacuating should an order be issued. Those with disabilities may find it is most advantageous to stay with relatives or friends before an evacuation order is declared. Contact your state's local emergency management agency now. By getting in touch with them, you may be added to their list and ensure that someone will check up on you before or after a disaster hits.
- Those who disobey evacuation orders find that during times of an emergency there are no services available to help them. Calling 911 after disobeying an evacuation order will not work; they will not come.
- Never use back roads or shortcuts during times of evacuation.
- Take cash out of the bank ahead of time as banks and ATM machines may be closed after a disaster.
- Be sure to use the evacuation routes that are recommended by local authorities.